It's the most popular time of year for decorating and renovating your home, and according to NHBC (National House-Building Council), the UK's leading warranty provider and standard setting body for new build homes, it is also a good time for planting trees and shrubs ready for those lazy days in the garden enjoying a bit of alfresco dining.

Planting trees and shrubs creates a more attractive garden, and is great way to fill a gap, provide privacy; and screen sights and sounds from next door. But before you get carried away either planting, or drastically cutting back the greenery in your garden, NHBC asks you to spare a thought for your home - and your neighbours.

NHBC, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2011, has worked consistently to raise the construction standards of new homes and provide protection for new homebuyers. NHBC offers practical advice on potential problems caused by new planting and the damage roots can cause to a home:

  • In clay soil, plant trees away from your home. Find out how tall the mature tree will be and make sure it is positioned at least three quarters of this distance from the house.
  • For elm, poplar, oak, eucalyptus, willow and some cypress species make sure the distance from the house is one and a quarter times the height of the mature tree.
  • Before cutting down or pruning a mature tree, check with your local authority to make sure that it is not protected by planning conditions, conservation area restrictions or a Tree Preservation Order.
  • Allow enough room for trunks and large roots to grow safely. Be particularly careful if planting near drains or lightweight structures.
  • Be careful not to plant trees near your neighbour's house. This might cut out light or cause damage and you could be liable for the cost of repair.
  • Make sure trees and shrubs are watered sufficiently to give them a good start in life.
  • Regular pruning of fast growing, thirsty trees such as cypress leyland will help to reduce the amount of water taken from the soil.

Peter Crane, NHBC's Head of Technical Standards, says: "When an established tree is removed from an area, or a new one is added, it will affect the moisture content of the surrounding soil. In clay soils this can cause shrinkage or swelling of the ground. This movement can potentially result in damage to the house foundations due to subsidence or heave, particularly where the foundations have not been designed with trees in mind. Always get the opinion of an expert if planning to plant new trees or when a large tree dies or has been severely pruned."

N.B. The information contained in this story is provided by the supplier and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of

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